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Nov 4, 2009 12:46 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town PBA to appeal ruling for police brass to separate from union

Nov 4, 2009 12:46 PM

A fraternity of Southampton Town Police supervisors is trying to break from the Southampton Patrolman’s Benevolent Association and form its own bargaining unit.

The Southampton Town Superior Officers Association, a fraternity of 21 high-ranking officers, has alleged that the PBA has used grievances and threats of union sanctions to interfere with their job duties and promote controversy between low-ranking officers and supervisors over the years. Because of those conflicts, the Superior Officers Association filed for separation in May 2008 with the New York State Public Employment Relations Board.

In an apparent victory for the superior officers, Employment Relations Board Administrative Law Judge Elena Cacavas granted permission for them to separate from the PBA. The decision was handed down on October 1.

Nonetheless, Southampton PBA President Patrick Aubé, who said the Superior Officers Association’s allegations are overblown, wants the police union to stay intact and has promised to appeal Judge Cacavas’s decision. The PBA has until November 23 to file an appeal.

“It’s easier and simpler to have a single voice representing the desires of the PBA,” said Mr. Aubé, who joined the department in 1992 and became PBA president in 2007. “One union, one voice.”

The Superior Officers Association was formed in 2002 and includes 21 Southampton sergeants, detective sergeants, lieutenants and captains. Allen Kranz, an attorney representing the organization, noted that police departments in Riverhead Town and Suffolk and Nassau counties all have separate bargaining units for police brass and rank-and-file officers.

“The supervisors feel it’s more appropriate that they be in one bargaining unit apart from the rank-and-file,” Mr. Kranz said. “The decision speaks for itself.”

If the decision holds, Southampton PBA’s membership would drop from 100 to 79. Rank-and-file police officers and detectives would stay in the PBA.

The 17-page decision by Judge Cacavas lists numerous instances of internal squabbles between the Superior Officers Association and PBA members.

According to the decision, at various times since 1997, Superior Officers Association members said they were threatened with grievances and union sanctions by the PBA. The Superior Officers Association also claimed that threats of union sanctions were directed against police supervisors who took disciplinary actions against rank-and-file officers, and against superior officers who voiced viewpoints that conflicted with the official line of the PBA.

In the decision, Judge Cacavas said Superior Officers Association members have difficulty doing their jobs because of conflicts with the PBA. “The very threat of union sanctions for the exercise of job duties makes the relationship untenable,” Judge Cacavas said. “The totality of the evidence warrants removal of the supervisors from the PBA unit.”

Captain Anthony Tenaglia, a Superior Officers Association member who testified before the Employment Relations Board about the conflicts and is cited repeatedly in the decision as a target of PBA threats, did not return calls seeking comment.

According to Judge Cacavas’s decision, Captain Tenaglia testified that the PBA filed a grievance against him for ordering an investigation of two off-duty police officers who injured a bystander during a brawl in 1997. The PBA then threatened to suspend him from the union but never followed through on the threat, he said.

In another instance the decision cites, the PBA sided with a patrol officer who sued Captain Tenaglia for a promotion to detective. The PBA paid the patrol officer’s legal bills but declined to pay Captain Tenaglia’s legal bills.

In addition, the decision states that Captain Tenaglia testified that the PBA threatened Superior Officers Association members with union sanctions for opposing the proposed creation of a new position for police commissioner to oversee the Southampton Town Police Department. The Superior Officers Association members were alledgedly threatened because the PBA supported the creation of the new position.

Mr. Aubé disputed Captain Tenaglia’s claims that conflicts between the PBA and Superior Officers Association have increased. He also said the PBA works harmoniously and should remain intact, according to the decision.

In an interview, Mr. Aubé said the PBA never threatened Superior Officers Association members with sanctions because they took a stance contrary to the PBA’s. “We’ve never sanctioned them,” he said. “We don’t sanction people. No one ever got sanctioned.”

Pointing to a post-hearing brief filed by the town in 2009, Mr. Aubé blamed Southampton Town for trying to break up the union. Mr. Aubé accused town officials of taking conflicting stances on the Superior Officers Association’s bid to separate.

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So Supervisor Kabot stood up once again against the PBA in an effort that will lower the STPD payroll. No wonder they hate her. No wonder they love Anna.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Nov 3, 09 3:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
They are a modern day Praetorian Guard, choosing who will become emperor and enrich them more.
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Nov 3, 09 4:29 PM
North of the Highway called it correct !
By fix-it-now (216), sag harbor on Nov 5, 09 6:52 PM
Sounds like the PBA rank and file have some anti-authority issues. One of the Police Brass' jobs is to oversee the rank and file and to enforce the proper discipline if needed. To threaten Police Brass seems to more closely resemble organized crime families instead of Police Officers. Will really have to consider possibly not donating to the PBA in the future.
By sayitaintsojoe (100), Westhampton on Nov 4, 09 2:18 PM
1 member liked this comment
>>>“It’s easier and simpler to have a single voice representing the desires of the PBA,” said Mr. Aubé, who joined the department in 1992 and became PBA president in 2007. “One union, one voice.”<<<

This is assuming that the rank and file MOS have the same objectives as the Superior Officers -- clearly they do not, and the Judge's decision should be unheald.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Nov 5, 09 9:51 AM
PBA Presidents are often manipulated and controlled by management. They are sometimes faced with disciplinary matters themselves and will bargain away the rights of other union members to preserve their status in the union and organization. PBA Presidents facing disciplinary suspension will sometimes be faced with a decision to bargain away contractual rights of the union to save their job or avoid suspension. This is nothing new or unique to PBA and Government relationships. It happens all over. ...more
By RonDo (33), Southampton on Nov 5, 09 10:03 AM
3 members liked this comment
>> Southampton Town Government paid East End Quartermaster $229,876.65 for police uniforms and other equipment from 2006 to 2008. <<

Fine... if it was competitively bid. Where was Richard Blowes on this one?
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Nov 9, 09 10:22 PM
Praetorian is right .... Perfect Pat
By fix-it-now (216), sag harbor on Nov 5, 09 7:14 PM
Quite a revelation about East End Quartermaster. If I understand it - each time the PBA bargains for an increase in the uniform allowance rate Mr. Aube is essentially enhancing himself many times over.
By diogenes (57), westhampton on Nov 6, 09 4:46 PM
1 member liked this comment
must be true - from the Secratary of State Web Site of Coroprations

DOS Process (Address to which DOS will mail process if accepted on behalf of the entity)
Chairman or Chief Executive Officer
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Nov 6, 09 4:56 PM
2 members liked this comment
Judges ruling makes sense to me.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Nov 9, 09 2:02 PM
Rondo and North of Highway: Thank you for this revelation of the seeming corruption or breathtaking conflict of interest by of the PBA President Patrick Aube. Vendor purchases should always be at least arm's length and 100% above Board.

There should never be a suspicion that the highest union official is using his strategic position representing his fellow officers as a lever to enrich himself, potentially to the disadvantage of the very Officers he represents or the Town that employs ...more
By Common Sense (56), Southampton on Nov 9, 09 9:47 PM
This is out of control!
By fix-it-now (216), sag harbor on Nov 10, 09 10:29 AM

Its out of control because no one in a seat of political power can take these guys on. The unions own Albany lock stock and barrel. Good example, by law pension benefits cannot be bargained over by local government and its unions, all pension changes must be done by legislation. The unions, particularly the police unions simply get around this by getting a legislature member to draft a bill for whatever they want and get it passed in both houses. Even if the local jurisdiction ...more
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Nov 10, 09 11:25 AM
3 members liked this comment
Certainly, the police officers who have attained the rank of lieutenant or detective together with those sergeants who have been retained beyond twenty years should have a union separate from the general PBA. The interests of both sectors are quite different. The current set-up is an invitation to pressure administrators by union sanction into implementing work rules that are beneficial to the PBA but not to the Town.

While knowing that changes to the status quo are a fanciful notion ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Nov 10, 09 3:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
look at your fire district taxes too. aren't our fire departments "volunteers"?
By Bayman3142 (249), Southampton on Nov 11, 09 7:54 PM
North of Highway

Thanks for putting it out there.
By fix-it-now (216), sag harbor on Nov 10, 09 3:32 PM
Thanks - its not about service - I think by and large the police force does a good job - its about fairness and fiscal balance - how does this guy get to run a uniform business while bargaining over uniform allowances? And now I understand he wants full time release - that is, all his time as union business and no patrol work. Does he draw a salary from the Union? In NYC they do but even there very few cops get release time. But is does show what a great gig being a unuion head can be. There's no ...more
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Nov 10, 09 4:26 PM
3 members liked this comment
Right now the PBA Presidents in both the Town and Village PBA get "PBA Days" to use instead of burning any vacation or holidays. If the Town PBA President wants a full release it will be up to the Town Board to allow it or stop it. It will be up to the public to show up to the Town Board meetings and support the notion or stand up and object it. Either way if it happens you can's say you didn't see it coming.

But understand this; the salary of the PBA President will be paid by the Town ...more
By RonDo (33), Southampton on Nov 10, 09 5:38 PM
RonDo - thanks for the info - in NYC they DO draw a salary from the union and full pay from the City. If this comes to the Board - I'll show up and give my 3 minutes - I'll also have my wife waiting in a "getaway" car with the license plate blacked out so we can get home without a ticket!!! I'm not anti-cop - its a hard job - but it is paid accordingly - the Union has stepped beyond its bound and has entered a political field where it should not be -
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Nov 10, 09 10:27 PM
To North of Highway:

I, too, will appear at the Town Council meeting should it be proposed that the STPD PBA president be released from all policing obligations and continue to be paid by the Town for union work.

However, unlike you, I fear that the reprisals will extend beyond the drive home from Town Hall, so I will appear incognito. Hopefully, no one will notice the citizen in the dress with the mustache.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Nov 11, 09 7:38 PM
1 member liked this comment